By: Alan Freed
Regret, anger, sadness, anxiety, relief, confusion, fear, exhaustion—that’s just a sample of the swirling emotions surrounding divorce. On top of that, you get to pay for it. But how much will your divorce cost?
Every new client approaching the first meeting with a lawyer wants to know how expensive this legal proceeding will be. Determining the cost is more complicated than you may think, and depends upon many factors. Here are a few:
- The complexity of the issues. If you have a house, two cars, and a bank account, but only a small amount of debt and no children, resolving your divorce should be relatively straightforward, which means less attorney involvement and lower fees. If, however, your case involves, for example, interests in a business or a child with special needs, you can anticipate a need for more professional assistance, and higher fees. Issues such as addiction, abuse, and serious mental illness can also increase the involvement of professionals and the fees for their services.
- The level of conflict. If the couple is able to sit across from each other over the kitchen table and work out the details, the cost for professional services may be relatively low. In short, the more easily you reach agreement, the less you’re likely to spend on attorneys. (But don’t make agreements in haste just to get things over with quickly; you may regret your decisions when you look back a few months later.)
- Settlement versus trial. Trials are very expensive. They require a great deal of preparation, which means many hours of professional time. Settlement, while often challenging and time-consuming, usually means a lower cost, particularly since trials are often followed by post-trial activity including appeals, which can go on for many months, if not years, and which will continue to incur professional time.
- Process option. Many divorcing couples elect to resolve their disagreements through mediation, a process which involves an impartial third-party who helps the couple negotiate the divorce terms. This process does not eliminate the need for lawyers, who are still necessary to provide legal advice and to file the necessary documents with the court. But, because the divorcing spouses are doing the “heavy lifting” of negotiation themselves, the lawyers’ involvement will be reduced, and their bills will be lower. The mediator will charge for their time, but one mediator is cheaper than two lawyers.
- The skill of the lawyers. Good, experienced lawyers come at a price, but for a good reason. With experience comes an ability to move more efficiently through the process, which results in less time spent and, hopefully, better results. Having good lawyers on both sides of the case often leads to negotiated agreements, allowing you to avoid the high cost of a trial.
These are just a few of the issues that will influence the cost of your case. The family law attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. can assist you by examining your case in detail to help you determine the most cost-effective way to help you through this challenging process.